Mercury’s retrograde through Aquarius, which begins on January 21st, defines the end of January and the first half of February.
The planet Mercury is named for the Roman god of language, travel, commerce and trickery, and is often represented clutching the snake-embraced staff and wearing the winged shoes of the god. Patron of travelers, Mercury helped conduct human beings from place to place, and as the lord of commerce, to conduct coin from one purse to another.
This god also had a dark side- one often used to describe the action of the planet in its retrograde phase. Mercury was prone to play tricks on gods and men- not all of them harmless. He was also a thief, prone to steal both cell phones and good judgment. Mercury, and Hermes before him, also played another important role- that of the psychopomp, or the guide of souls. Unfettered, Mercury moves freely between heavens and hells, guiding travelers along those most secret paths. The journey to the underworld is the one most parallel to Mercury’s retrograde phase, as the period of backward movement entails a literal disappearance of the planet from visibility- the traveler gone once again to those places that none shall glimpse.
Ironically, it is retrograde Mercury’s close proximity to the Sun (from our point of view) that creates his invisibility. All things at an extreme generate their opposites. In this case it is the Sun’s great brilliance which, instead of enabling sight of Mercury, makes it impossible.
These stories and figures are useful, for they encode a cluster of the planet’s essential actions. Yet we are limited if we listen to only one set of stories. Another volume of tales was told in ancient Egypt, where Hermes was strongly associated with, even synchretized with, the god Thoth.
While Mercury is a tricky, fast and playful, Ibis-Headed Thoth shines a light on the thoughtful, elegant, and scholarly side of
the planet. Yet this is not the Ibis-Head Thoth whose image resembles the coming weeks, but Thoth’s alternate depiction- a baboon. While it would be difficult to find a more stately creature than the ibis, the baboon is a loud, aggressive and generally rude creature. Although the ancient Egyptians were said to revere the baboon, it is impossible to ignore its cacophonous hostility.
Yet it is through the figure of the baboon that we unlock a window on to this particular Mercury retrograde. The vista opens onto the shadow of rational Mercury in logical Aquarius. Not science but superstition here, the howl of shrieking monkeys drowning out the dry logic of the professorial lecturer. This wave of alogos brings with it a certain amount of chaos, but with chaos comes freedom. The strictures of language drop away from the voice, leaving only primal utterances of pain, delight and intent. The names of gods long-forgotten endure in half-ruined manuscripts, stripped of meaning but still full of power. Barbarous languages are created and forgotten in the moment, never to be spoken again. The breath of creation temporarily unbound from the logos leaves shocking patterns of condensation on the window-pane of the mind’s eye.
These barbarous proto-words are somewhere inside you, waiting to be muttered or howled into the vast spaces outside the small cube of logic you’ve cobbled together. Unmoored, drift for a bit in that starry void, immersed in the subtle wavelengths of deep inner space.
Perhaps it is time to forget.
Perhaps it is time to go wandering.
At least for a bit.
Mercury’s retrograde through Aquarius highlights your social sphere. You may need to deal with gossip and other idiocy making the rounds. Still, consider the way that you keep in touch with and coordinate with people. You may find that the entire way you’ve been thinking about participation in communities is a little off, missing important pieces. Consider re-calibrating your angle of insertion into collectives.
Mercury’s retrograde through Aquarius suggests it might be time to re-think your professional life. You may discover that the sensible path that you plotted has failed to take into account certain factors, and as they emerge, the need to do a little careful reconfiguration will become more evident. It may be that it is not the path you’ve plotted that it is error, but the way you’ve been thinking about it.
Mercury’s upcoming retrograde promises to reconfigure your vision of the future. The familiar scenes which you imagine lying before you are instead likely to be replaced with alien vistas- places you’ve never imagined yourself. Gaze upon your trajectory through space and time with fresh eyes. It may be that your current expectations are, in fact, keeping you from your true course.
Mercury’s retrograde through Aquarius highlights the exchange of time, money and energy between yourself and the people in your life. Undescribed dynamics will become spoken, and balances renegotiated. You may also see mutual arrangements mutate, becoming unexpected patterns of exchange and support.
Mercury’s retrograde in Aquarius spotlights communications with your nearest and dearest. Words previously unspoken are likely to emerge, the tip of mental-icebergs rising into the sunlight of consciousness. Listen to what others say about what you say.
The retrograde motion of Mercury through Aquarius highlights the way you’ve been thinking about the maintenance of your physical vehicle. Hermes’ action here provides the makings of a paradigm shift, or at least a significant challenge to your current protocol. Take another look at the way you’ve defined healthy and responsible living.
Mercury’s time retrograde in Aquarius asks you to re-evaluate how you’re allocating your creative energy. Yet it is unlikely that this will be about a few details or projects. It is instead a prompt to rethink the whole way you distribute that energy. Consider reformatting the system which generates your lifestyle.
Mercury’s retrograde through Aquarius principally concerns your living situation. Look to communications with the people you live with, if any, as previously unspoken dynamics are likely to be dredged up. You may also find foreign and strange messages emerging from cracks in your foundation. Take the time to decode these garbled messages from your past.
Mercury’s retrograde slide through Aquarius suggests that your everyday and everyweek schedule is likely to be the site of disruptions. Prepare for surprises and cancellations. Consider new ways to organize, or disorganize, your regular doings.
The retrograde of Mercury through Aquarius is likely to play with the numbers of your bank account, taking totals sideways from expected budgetary estimates. This is likely to be a mixture of loss and gain, both unaccounted for. Consider the paradigm you’ve been bringing to your finances and consider whether there isn’t a better way of looking at things- some strange wisdom you’ve entirely neglected.
Mercury’s retrograde through the terrain of your sign suggests a significant reconfiguration of the way you operate. Consider your assumptions about the way the world works, as well as your role within it. You’ll likely find that it’s time to update some of those premises.
The retrograde of Mercury through Aquarius highlights the void of interstellar space which yawns somewhere just beneath the threshold of your waking consciousness. In this huge, empty space, radio signals from distant universes are waiting to be deciphered. Take some time to find and then float in here, listening for subtle semiotic patterns.